The narration of Luca Faravelli on his walking experience along the Via Francigena in France, in the Franche-Comté region. A personal experience as well as one of work, at the service of the European Association of the Vie Francigene to support the development of the European route.
The French terrain is new to my walking boots, as is the countryside, its colours and bell tower roofs, painted in different hues in a way that reminds me of the scales of a fish. The destination is Besançon, the celebrated capital of the Franca Contea, and the route begins in Champlitte, a village of almost two thousand inhabitants that can be found near the border of the new Grand Est region.
The cloudy morning threatens rain, but we do not encounter it in these three days, just one or two tentative drops that do not worry us. The Via Francigena just touches Champlitte, it doesn’t enter the alleys to reach the Church of Saint Christophe or the castle, but, almost unseen, it coasts alongside it allowing pilgrims a panoramic view of the hamlet, while their march slowly leads towards the hill close-by.
There are three of us, one of which a Frenchman who decided to join us at the last minute, thus enriching the walk, and at the same time our minds, of languages beyond the Alps and beyond the Channel. Dialogue on various gastronomic and cultural delights is constant, fun and interesting as our journey progresses. In the evening we stay in Seveux, a small village six hours from the starting point of our walk, reached after a winding trail in the woods that emerges on the bank of the Salon, a wide but un-wild river of the area. The evening is merry and the wine accompanies it vehemently, and Roger, the host and owner of the gîte, carries out his role perfectly.
The next day we continue to Bucey-les-Gy and the colours we encounter in the cultivated lands of these places almost move us: bright colours, vibrant, and above all different, enriched by a clear sky with some clouds, numerous like the groups of cows we constantly come across on the fringes of the path. At Bucey-les-Gy we stay in a real hostel, with a kitchen and every service fundamental for a pilgrim; a joke or two, after a well-deserved afternoon rest on a camping bed, with the clanging of pans and cutting of knives that cut the tomatoes given to us in the background, and the water that boils the pasta which cheers our famished stomachs. We were united with our beds very early this evening, the last leg would be over 30 km long, to Besançon, and despite an ever present pleasant breeze, even in the hottest and sunniest points of the day, and the hours of walking would be many.
The walk towards Besançon worked us hard for the entire day, nevertheless the road was spotted with delightful villages and people who offered their assistance and filled our flasks of water. I was hit by the cordiality and hospitality of the inhabitants, a woman even offered us some fruit to take with us. We reached the ancient city in the afternoon where Jacques Guy welcomed us, who, with a fast pace and quick tongue, showed us the most significant historical buildings and some interesting facts of the events that took place here.
A singular and picturesque journey of which the landscapes will remain preserved in our eyes and memories, and land, which dusted our footwear, will not be forgotten any time soon.